Category: scripting

If Alan Smith says left corner when it’s actually right corner, or vice versa, just one more time…

FIFA16 Season 1 after 32

I’ve spent so much quality time playing FIFA16 this week that I don’t have time for a very long post today.

Up there is the very latest table. With 42 of 46 league matches played in a very long season, I’m just outside the automatic promotion spaces. A playoff place is all but certain.

My plan was to get promotion in Season 1 and then switch to World Class difficulty for Season 2 in the Championship. This looks like it’s going to happen.

Here’s a highlights reel of my last few sessions. In this video you may see that the game has started to come together for me.

Quite a variety of moments on show there. My pick of them is the ‘pass with purpose’ straight into Rashford’s feet at around 1:20. His first touch is poor and the ball bobbles up, and of course with my shooting predilections I went straight for the volley…

I’m really loving FIFA16’s long aerial through-balls, or Hail Marys as I think of them. Great when they come off, as two of them do in the above compilation.

The game on Professional has clicked to the extent that I’m not trying (so much) to play it as if it’s PES.

For one thing, the slide tackles. Slide-tackles are a hideously overpowered monstrosity in PES2016.

In PES2016, the slide tackle makes your defensive strategy simple: sprint your players until they’re in position to slide, and then slide, slide, slide, slide, slide, until you get the ball back. After hundreds of matches of PES2016, slide-tackling is baked so deeply into my muscle memory that I wonder if I’ll ever get rid of it now.

Hopefully I will re-educate myself to defend properly. Slide-tackling is barely anything at all in FIFA16. Sliding’s range is short and its effectiveness very low. Maybe one slide-tackle per match will come off, and then that’s usually a toe-ender by a defender that concedes a corner.

On the negative side I’ve noticed some very obvious scripting shenanigans.

It’s very noticeable that when I’m winning, it becomes incredibly difficult to keep possession. There are blatant instances of my players passing the ball out of play for no reason at all, and that sort of thing.

I’m familiar enough with this football game by now to know when I’ve blundered and when the invisible hand of scripting is in play.

Scripting is a necessary evil in footy gaming. It’s what makes football games great. But some degree of subtlety is advised. FIFA16’s scripting is surprisingly unsubtle.

By Tuesday I’ll have played the last few matches of the season, and hopefully won promotion.

I was toying with the idea of live-streaming the decisive match(es), but doing so would affect my style of play too much and ruin the experience for me. This is why the players in the imminent Gamescom vids are almost universally terrible. Everybody tries to play the way they think other people will approve of.

Football gaming is entirely a private pastime for me and always will be. Everything great in football gaming is based around a single player sitting alone in a room.

Mabbutt’s head

The above video shows the latest in a long line of memorable moments that I’m enjoying in FIFA16. Every session brings something that makes me go ‘wow’ and sit up and take notice.

Tudgay – strangely ineffective in recent matches (more on that below) – pops up at the end of a high, looping cross to bury a diving header into the net.

I’ve got a strangely stubborn memory of Gary Mabbutt specialising in scoring goals like this in the same way that Stuart Pearce was noted for his free kicks and Matt Le Tissier was adored for his bending, swerving, dipping volleys and half-volleys.

There’s plenty of video evidence on YouTube of messrs Pearce and Le Tissier scoring their signature goals, but none that I can find of Mabbutt scoring his diving headers. I must have imagined it, along with everything else in the world.

In the league I’m floating between top spot and 6th spot. I’m past the mid-season window, where I didn’t buy anyone. I did get Rashford on loan from Man Utd, but in FIFA16 he’s just a very average, before-he-was-famous Youth player who’s no better than my existing League 1 strikers.

Incidentally, how bloody irritating is Deadline Day when you’re not interested in buying anyone? Very irritating indeed. Impatiently pressing again and again to get through the day hour by hour is just pointless. It needs a ‘skip to end of day’ option. Maybe there’s one there that I’ve missed.

I think I’ll definitely finish somewhere in the promotion slots at the season’s end – but it’s not straightforward. The game has taken note of my greyhound-style start to the season and is starting to muck me around now.

I’ve been playing career modes in football games for a lot of years and I have come to be very familiar with how they work. How they work is that they must artificially handicap the human player from time to time.

I’m not just talking about in-match scripting here. I’m talking about the wider, macro-scripting of a league season. The designers of these modes don’t want the human player either to run away with the league or fall so far behind that the remainder of the season is meaningless. And so they put in an auto-balancing thing that I call macro-scripting. I’d do exactly the same thing, in their shoes.

So if the game registers the fact that you’re scoring too many goals or winning too many matches, you will soon mysteriously run into sticky mud. Suddenly, for no real reason, you won’t be ‘allowed’ to score so many goals and you will struggle to win matches.

Which is of course ‘realistic’. Every team goes on indifferent little runs at times throughout a season of matches. In our beloved football games, though, this sort of thing is plainly hard-coded behind the scenes. Scoring goals and winning matches automatically brings on the handicap, sooner or later.

Some people call me Moritz

Another long weekend of other business to take care of means I only got a few more matches in on PES2014.

With just over 1/3rd of Season 10 to go, I remain more or less exactly where I was in the league — still in the top 4, still in the pack of teams chasing Chelsea at the top.

Of three matches played I won two and lost one. As ever, it’s the one I lost that I remember the most.

It was against Blackpool, and I went 0-1 down early on, never a good thing to happen in PES2014. I exerted myself manfully, but couldn’t score, and conceded another to go 0-2 down. The second half came along and almost through sheer willpower I hauled myself back into it, 1-2, and then got the equaliser. 2-2 with 10 minutes to go.

At this stage momentum was firmly with me. I heard a ghostly voice in my head saying words to the effect of ‘There’s only one team going to win this, and that’s Coventry City…’

And I might have done, except I wasn’t allowed to have the bloody ball. Blackpool kicked off, and the AI keepball script that was operating was so farcically obvious that I had to smile. Blackpool kept the ball until they crafted their chance in the 89th minute, and they scored it — a decent 20-yard strike into my top corner. My players felt like they were all dead on their feet.

A major blow, this defeat, as it allowed Chelsea to open up a 9-point gap on me. The title is still within reach, but I will at least have to beat Chelsea in our upcoming titanic encounter, and then hope for Master League’s table-scripting fairy to come to my aid after that.

A long-range goal to finish with. I mentioned last week that these were becoming more regular for me in PES2014, roughly one every 5-7 matches. So regular that I don’t record most of them. This one snagged my attention because it crashed in off the underside of the bar (always a joy), and because of who scored it:

The scorer is MORITZ. Erm…

Who? That’s exactly my point. I’ve had Moritz for several seasons now. He’s a decently above-average versatile midfielder. I think I got him in my promotion season from Division 2. He’s only started looking capable of doing the above since my team’s average OVR has risen past the 85 mark. One of my working theories about PES2014 is that it ‘allows’ fairly frequent long-range goals for teams whose average OVR is above a certain threshold.

Generally with this game things are still where they were this time last week. I’m enjoying every session, and having a grand old time with Pro Evo’s most-maligned instalment.

Scripty McScriptface

The pattern of Season 10 of PES2014 is becoming clear. After Monday’s somewhat gushing endorsement of the game and my progress in it, I find myself being contained more or less in place. Can’t get ahead, but not falling behind. In the League at least. I’ve played 6 more league matches and this is the table:

PES2014 Season 10 after 15I’ve not lost any more matches, but there have been two frustrating draws that have prevented me getting close to the runaway leaders. Both of these dodgy draws felt a touch scripty. Saying that PES is a touch scripty is like saying EastEnders is a touch shouty. It’s what happens.

First Man Utd were almost unplayable, and I considered myself lucky to come away with a 1-1. Then I should have thumped Spurs 10-0, such was my dominance. Their keeper clawed everything away and the post saved him twice when he was beaten. 1-1 there too.

I’m worried that this season will see me just go through to the end, almost getting within touching distance of the top but never quite managing it. As if the game won’t allow it for another season or two.

Many a veteran PES player will snort in derision at the suggestion that there’s a secret layer of machinery behind the scenes that controls the tendency of outcomes. But I know that the machinery is there, and that scripting exists.

Two reasons. First: I’ve perceived its effects, in every single football game I have ever played, for over 20 years now. Second (this is the real clincher): if I was creating a football game, I would pack it to the rafters with scripting. Football gamers want football games that last for more than a couple of weeks. The only practical method of doing that is to install a host of artificial handicaps that work their hidden magic according to very specific criteria – scripts, in other words.

Scripting in PES is an old debate that should have been put to bed long, long ago. I’m amazed when I see it suggested, or even hinted, that scripting doesn’t exist in football games. Believing that scripting doesn’t exist in footy games is a little like believing that film actors improvise their lines, and are accidentally filmed in the course of doing so. It just isn’t a credible position to take.

PES2014 Season 10 Europa League final group

Things are slightly different in the Europa, where I have sailed through to the knockouts, as I knew I would. You just get a feel for how things will go. Scripting works both ways.

The knockouts are where I traditionally trip up in European competition. The Europa (or the WEFA Cup, as I will always think of it) is my least-won competition in all historical Master Leagues, for various reasons. This may be the last opportunity I will ever get to win it in PES2014.

Finally today, two moments from my encounter with Chelsea at the start of this season. I found these moments on my phone. I won this match 2-1. Yes, I’m the one who inflicted that solitary defeat on Chelsea as pictured in the table above.

First you see one of PES2014’s dumb moments: a decent header from Torres (okay, it seems to come off his shoulder, or even the Chelsea defender’s back, but whatever) that is chested down on the line by Deco, who then can’t twist in time to scoop the ball in. Aaargh!

But responsiveness fans needn’t fret too much. A few minutes later, Torres is on hand to first-time a half-volley into the net. The goal comes from a nifty one-two and is a fairly typical PES goal in many ways, but I find these something of a rarity in PES2014.